Pop-up event to raise funds for Ukraine in Whittier hosted hundreds of supporters. (Alfredo Menjivar)
Pop-up event to raise funds for Ukraine in Whittier hosted hundreds of supporters.

Alfredo Menjivar

Whittier family hosts pop-up event to raise funds for Ukraine

May 18, 2022

A Ukrainian family held a fundraiser at Orchards BBQ & Grill, 16214 Whittier Blvd., in Whittier on May 9, and will host another on May 16.

From 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, the Brunets family worked with the restaurant to raise funds for their native country, Ukraine, after witnessing the country’s struggle to survive their war with Russia.

The family allowed residents of Whittier and the surrounding area to attend, and every participant received a ticket to experience unique, Ukranian cuisine as well as support their fundraiser.

The Brunets is a family who came from Ukraine to see refuge and then started a fundraiser to help support their country.
The Brunets family came from Ukraine seeking refuge; They started a fundraiser to help support their country. Photo credit: Alfredo Menjivar

Oleksiv Brunets, the main host, sat down with many participants at the event to share his family’s heart-breaking story upon making their [recent] journey to the U.S.

Oleksiv, his brother and mother all migrated to the United States carrying one suitcase each just last month.

The family said they had taken the long route to get to Los Angeles and had fled from Ukraine to Poland, first. Then, they made their way to Spain, then to Colombia, Cancun, Tijuana and, finally, to La Habra in April.

Oleksiv said that they might never return to Ukraine; The three left behind a 27-year-old brother, their father and other family and friends who are still in Ukraine fighting the war. The family, so far, was able to discover temporary housing in Whittier.

Over 5.7 million Ukrainian refugees have fled their native land, which is equal to one quarter, or 90%, of the country’s population; Over 6.5 million are possibly displaced in Ukraine.

Los Angeles has about 17,000 Ukrainian immigrants as of 2020. But as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues, at least 26,000 fled to the City of Angels since. There are, now, over 60,000 Ukrainians in all of California.

The largest Ukrainian community in the United States resides in New York with over 130,000 currently living there; this includes over 74,000 Ukrainian immigrants.

Ukraine’s neighboring country’s have actually been taking in refugees. Surrounding countries like Romania currently host over 800,000 Ukrainians; Belarus hosts 26,000; and some parts of Russia have taken in over 700,000.

Most refugees, however, currently seek asylum in Poland; where over 3.1 million refugees currently stay.

The European Union gateway recently gave permission to Ukrainians to leave the war and, instead, work in it’s 27 member nations for up to three years as they continue to draft their people.

A family from Ukraine set up a fundraiser at a local restaurant serving Ukrainian food for donations.
Ukranian food served at a barbecue restaurant in Whittier to raise funds for Ukraine. Photo credit: Alfredo Menjivar

Throughout the event, Oleksiv, his brother and their mother endlessly thanked every person who walked through the restaurant’s doors for their support.

The family shared that it’s upsetting to fathom the fact that they still have many loved ones, still, in Ukraine suffering at the hands of Russia’s army; They hope that people in the Greater Los Angeles County and farther will continue to support Ukraine during this difficult time.

People all over the world are sending their love and prayers to people in Ukraine; The Brunets family said that they hope their efforts to continue supporting Ukraine will inspire others to do the same.

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